The Xceptor Blog

4 key takeaways from Gartner on the value of RPAs

27 March 2018

3 minutes read time

Gartner’s webinar Robotic Process Automation (RPA): From Hype to Reality provides an interesting overview of where RPA best fits in the automation landscape.

Here are four key takeaways from the webinar:

1. RPA is a low hanging fruit, a gateway technology

RPA is the proverbial low hanging fruit of digital transformation. It is relatively low cost, low risk and fairly quick to implement. As a technology, it also creates limited resistance from employees. This is because RPA tools don’t typically take jobs but rather drive efficiencies and reduce errors. It is unobtrusive and doesn’t need lots of integration.

It’s an important first step, should be a focus and is growing very quickly. So where is it best used? This is the nub.

2. RPAs replicate tasks, not processes

It’s all in the name, or is it? Naming it Robotic Process Automation is perhaps throwing us off our game. Processes are not singular but made up of multiple tasks or steps. Processes, such as KYC, can easily be made up of hundreds of tasks.

RPAs are best applied to simple tasks rather than a whole end-to-end process. Indeed, Gartner says RPAs are probably applicable to around 30% or less of your portfolio of tasks.

The real ‘secret sauce’ to improving ROI, says Gartner, is in replicating this to multiple, simple tasks. The more tasks you can find, the better the ROI – but don’t take your eye off governance and consistency in how people use the tools.

3. Identifying the right tasks

Identifying the right tasks is typically where much of the time is – or should be - spent in RPA deployment as it is imperative that the right tasks are identified.

To do this, profile your processes and break them down into tasks. Which ones are rules-based, routine and predictable? Which are judgement-based, ad hoc and unpredictable? Also profile your data. Is it structured, stable and low velocity? Or is it more unstructured, volatile and high velocity?

Gartner believes RPA is best placed for tasks that can be mimicked and where the drive is for efficiency. So where the data has a lot of structure and consistency, and tasks are rules-based, routine and predictable. This is the sweet spot for RPAs.

4. What’s next?

RPA has proven to be useful as a stepping stone to more sophisticated digital transformation initiatives. But the question quite quickly asked next, says Gartner, is ‘what next?’

The ‘next’ is to graduate to the next phases of transformation where processes are enhanced, re-imagined and interpreted. This offers the opportunity for even greater ROI.

The following phases focus on the more sophisticated and complex processes, where a human is perhaps needed to make a decision at some point. There is likely to be the complexity of multiple workflows and multiple processes that need to be re-imagined. There is also likely a lack of standardisation and consistency and exceptions need to be handled.

This drive to continue the journey is important. Automating the next tranche of more complex tasks enables businesses to transform and move to more intelligent forms of automation.